"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"  

Luke 15:4-6

May 23, 2007


Memorial Day is approaching, and I have been thinking about how we celebrated this particular holiday, when I was growing up. In the part of the country in which I grew up, it was also referred to as “Decoration Day”, and it was a big deal for everyone to go to the cemetery and place flowers on the graves of family members. It was a day when you remembered loved ones who had passed away, and paid your respects.

There used to be a wild rose bush growing beside the dirt road that led to our house. Mama would cut fresh flowers from that bush and make a bouquet to place on the graves of her parents. As you drove by the Blue Eye Cemetery after Memorial Day, there would be a sea of color made up of all the many flowers. But as you looked, you would notice a few graves that had no flowers on it. I would wonder who that person had been, what their life had been like, and if there was anyone who remembered them anymore.

Throughout the years, I have sung and played the piano at numerous funerals. While most of those have been for relatives, a few have been for people I really didn't know very well. Those times when it was for someone I loved and cared for, it was much easier when I knew how they had lived their life, and that they had a genuine relationship with God. I could always tell when that person was loved and well respected by their family, friends, and the community.

Many years ago, a man had been murdered in our community due to a drug related incident. Although I had never met him, I knew members of his family. The funeral was held at the church I attended, and I was asked to sing and play the piano. The church was packed and even had people standing in the back. I noticed that all the men had on suits, but I didn't really think that much about it. At the end of the service, I was playing the piano as everyone walked to the front to view the body and then they left to go outside. One of my uncles and a cousin were standing in the back of the sanctuary and waited until I was finished. I thought they were acting kind of strange when they told me to stay with them, and not leave until everyone was gone. They proceeded to tell me that they had seen several of the men wearing weapons under their suit jackets. I was very naïve and had had no idea. There were cops sitting up and down the highway and parked in front of the church. You could see people get into their cars and open liquor bottles and start drinking. Due to the circumstances and the background of many of those who were present, there were numerous possibilities of what could have taken place. I wonder now, several years later, how this man is remembered, or if he is even thought about at all, except in the context of how he died. Did his life account for anything positive?

Several years ago, I was acquainted with an older woman whose husband had died, and she had no other family. She was one of the most bitter women I have ever known. She was constantly cussing, and complaining about how horrible this world was, and how everyone was trying to rip her off. She was a wealthy woman and could have lived very, very comfortably. Instead, she allowed herself $100 a month for food, and if she ran out of groceries, then she just wouldn't eat. She was paranoid that everyone was after her money and out to get her. The truth was, the way she lived and acted, very few people probably even knew she had any money. Occasionally someone would try to befriend her, but she would be so hateful that she would run them off. She passed away a few weeks ago, and only had about six or seven people who attended her funeral. Three of those people went because they knew who she was; a couple of ladies, from the nursing home she had been living in, were there; and a couple of women attended, who didn't know her, but were there because the service was at their church. The minister had never met her and knew nothing about her. No one, except the two funeral directors, went to the cemetery. This woman was in her nineties, and there is no one who will remember her, and she had nothing to show for her life.

On the other hand, I have relatives who will always be remembered, and their legacy is being carried down through their children and grandchildren. I never knew my Grandpa Parton, who was called “Poppy” by everyone in the family. He died when I was a baby, yet I have heard so many stories about him, that I feel as if I knew him. He was a great storyteller, and all of the family loved to go to his house and set around, listening to him tell stories. He would make them up as he went along.

I'll never forget my uncle Jay. He would tell stories about himself, and although you heard them over and over, you couldn't help but laugh every time you heard them. My dad or one of my other uncles would tease him and say, “Now Jay, you know it didn't happen like that.” He would just laugh and say, “Well, I thought I'd add a little to it and make it more interesting.”

I have so many other uncles, aunts, and cousins who I will always remember fondly. I've mentioned my mom many times, but during those years I had her here, she made a lasting impact and impression on my life that I will never forget. I know that my sisters have passed stories and memories of her, on to their children.

Sometimes I stop and take inventory of my life, and wonder what type of legacy I'm leaving behind. A lot of couples have children and grandchildren to keep their memories alive. Jon and I have chosen not to have children for various reasons. Due to us not having children, therefore eliminating grandchildren, I sometimes wonder who will keep our memory alive. I wonder what impact we're making on lives, and if we are creating a legacy for future generations. I don't want my life to be a waste, nor do I want to live a life that will be forgotten. I want to have a positive impact on my nieces and nephews and their children, that will benefit their lives. I want to have friends who I can touch and make a difference in their lives. I want my church to be enriched by my presence. I want my life to impact anyone and everyone who knows my name. It's my responsibility to make sure that happens.

In Matthew 26:6-13 is a story about a woman who made such on impact on Jesus, that he declared that she was to always be remembered. It was two days before Passover, when Jesus would be turned over to be crucified. Jesus and His disciples were in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. Jesus was reclining at the table, when a woman came into the home, carrying an alabaster box filled with expensive perfume. She poured the perfume over the head of Jesus. The disciples became very indignant and asked, “Why this waste?” They went on to say that the perfume could have been sold at a high price, and the money given to the poor.

Jesus replied, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful (noble, praiseworthy) thing to me. The poor you will always have, but you will not always have me.” He went on to say that by pouring the perfume on him, she was preparing Him for burial.

Jesus ended by saying, “I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel (good news) is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

This woman gave her very best, and showed her love and deep devotion to Jesus. What she did meant so much to Jesus, He said that she was to always be remembered.

Our love for Jesus is the most valuable aspect of our relationship to Him. If we profess to be a Christian and follower of Christ, then our words and actions should reflect that. The depth of love we have for Jesus will be reflected in how we conduct our lives. It can be a shallow, superficial love that is wishy-washy, depending on our circumstances, or it can be a deep abiding live that is steadfast, regardless of what we may face or go through.

I want to live in such a way that Jesus would look down and say, “What Loretta has done and how she lives her life is to always be remembered, and told in memory of her to future generations.”

There are stories in the Bible where people are remembered for both the good and bad things they did. Saul started out good but ended up bad. Paul started out bad but ended up good. Joseph was always good. David was basically a good man, but did make some huge mistakes. What made him different was that he recognized when he failed and repented and always turned back to God.

We also will be remembered for both the good and bad traits we have. We may not be able to always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we handle them. We choose how we live our life. We choose whether or not we're going to honor and love God. We choose the level of relationship we have with God. We also choose the depth of relationship we have with our family and friends. Let us think about the choices we make. May we all make choices that will honor God, ourself, our families, and others. May we live a life worthy of remembering.


My grandmother has Alzheimer's disease. Many days (probably most now), she can't remember her own life. But she seems okay with it. She gets to meet lots of great friends every day. Then she meets them again the next day. But the highlight of each day for her is when her family, especially grandkids come by to visit. We remember her life very well. We all remember the strong, kind, wonderful woman she was. And she is filled with pride to see each of us and how much we love and respect her.


Baked Beans

3 cans Pork and Beans Onion, chopped

1 cup BBQ Sauce Green Pepper, chopped (optional)

¼ cup Brown Sugar 3 Bacon strips on top

Combine ingredients. Place bacon strips on top. Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 1 ½ hours.



One Sunday morning, a pastor friend of my sister and brother-in-law, got up to preach. His wife saw that his pants had came unzipped and was trying to get his get his attention and let him know without anyone noticing. They had a nursery at the back of the church with a large window between it and the sanctuary. She went back there and wrote in big letters on a piece of paper, “Zip your pants” and held it up in the window, thinking he would read it and step behind the pulpit and zip up with no one else being the wiser. She was holding the sign up and waving to get his attention. Finally he stopped and said, “My wife's trying to tell me something. I can't read her sign, so would someone turn around and tell me what it says?” Needless to say, the whole church turned around to read her message!


Life is an echo. What you send get back. What you get.

May you all have a safe Memorial weekend!

We love and appreciate you all so very much!!

Loretta & Jon Gray